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Police recover drug video showing Toronto mayor

2:31 PM, Oct 31, 2013   |    comments
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tells to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Oct. 31, 2013. (Photo: Nathan Denette AP)
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The police chief of Toronto said Thursday that his office is in possession of a controversial video allegedly showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.

Police Chief Bill Blair, speaking to reporters at police headquarters, confirmed that Ford is shown in the video, but refrained from commenting on the drug-use allegation except to say that it includes "images consistent with those reported in the press."

"As a citizen of Toronto I'm disappointed," Blair said. "It's an issue of significant public concern."

Blair said, however, that nothing in the video would allow police to "form reasonable grounds" to support a criminal charge against Ford.

The feisty mayor met briefly with reporters Thursday afternoon and said he is constrained from trying to defend himself.

"I wish I could come out and defend myself," he said in a raucous, two-minute meeting with reporters outside his office. "Unfortunately I can't. It's before the courts. That's all I can say right now."

He emphasized, however, that he would not step down from the post he has held since 2010.

"I have no reason to resign," the mayor said.

The crack video allegations surfaced in May when reporters from the The (Toronto)Star and the Gawker, a U.S. website, reported that they were shown the video allegedly by people associated with drug dealers who were seeking money.

In its initial report on the video, The Star said that a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade were shopping it for as much as $1 million.

The Star said two of its reporters viewed the video but did not pay any money and did not obtain a copy. The Star said it had no way to verify the authenticity of the video but said it appears to clearly show Ford in a well-lit room and apparently was shot during the past winter at a house in Toronto.

The newspaper said the video "appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe." The newspaper said Ford appears to be "incoherent" and is shown trading jibes with someone off-camera.

Ford has repeatedly denied using crack cocaine and has said the alleged video does not exist.

On Thursday, the mayor yelled at reporters to get off his property before he left his house in the morning. He didn't respond to questions shouted at him.

On Thursday, Blair said the evidence will be "protected in court" until the trial of Alexander Sandro Lis, the mayor's friend and occasional driver, and will not be released. He said he had not yet interviewed Ford about it.

The mayor has been the target of a police investigation that witnessed and photographed him in meetings with Lisi, who has been charged with drug dealing, according to police documents released Thursday, the Toronto Star reports.

As a result of the police seizing the video, Lisi has also been charged with extortion, Blair said.

The Star has also published a photograph of the mayor with three men, including Anthony Smith, who was later gunned down on a city street.

The beefy, blond mayor has had several run-ins in the past with the media, including a confrontation with a Star photographer outside his house in 2012 and a flareup two years ago when he call 911 after a camera crew for a comedy TV team showed up unannounced outside his home.

In 2006, Ford, who is described by the CBC as a "right-leaning, law-and-order" politician, was escorted from a hockey game after a drunken ruckus in which he shouted obscenities at a couple sitting nearby. He initially denied being at the game but later apologized for his behavior, the CBC Radio Canada reported.

Contributing: Associated Press


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